3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The war grinds on...,
This review is from: Dragonmaster 2: Knighthood Of The Dragon (Paperback)
In another much-better-than-usual book, Chris Bunch continues the saga of Hal Kailas, Dragon Master. This story is really deserving of more than four stars, but isn't quite up to a five-star rating, though it's close. Too bad there isn't an option for a four-and-a-half-star rating.
Anyway, on to the review:
Hal Kailas has come a long way from the vagabond runaway he was, to advance man for a traveling troupe of entertainers, to calvary sergeant, to combat dragon rider. Along the way he's seen triumph and disaster, has visited death upon his enemy, and been chased by death himself. The long-awaited war has brought Hal's kingdom of Deraine, with it's Sagene allies, to a death-grip with it's Roache foe. The war isn't going well for anyone, with both sides embraced in a lethal wrestling match of attrition. When one side comes up with a new tactic, it is immediately countered by the other side, and the blood-letting continues unabated with little advantage to either side. Whole armies are sent forward into the teeth of prepared enemy positions, and are consumed. Regiments and divisions are annihilated for the possession of a few square miles one day, only to have enemy regiments and divisions pay a similar price to recover that same territory the very next day.
In this grinding, deadly environment, the Dragon Master Kailas struggles to overcome a lack of resources, a dearth of replacements, and the dedicated enmity of the opposing Roche dragon riders. Endlessly innovative in finding new ways to deal death to his foes, Hal becomes the focus of the best Roache rider and his flight of black dragons. Reminiscent of the aerial rivalries of the First World War, base raids and ambush from on high mix with challenges to personal duels. Advantage passes from one side to the other in a sea-saw contest for supremacy, and all will hang in the balance as men of determination press their courage and will to the utmost. Scruples and inhibitions will be abandoned as desperation makes acceptable acts of wholesale destruction that were once unthinkable. The war will grow to swallow innocents and soldiers alike, and in the midst of all this, treason and imprisonment will reach out to embrace the Dragon Master.
How will Deraine triumph, when it's most dedicated and effective defenders tumble from the skies?
Of course, I'm not going to give away the entire plot, so you'll just have to read it for yourself. As with the previous book, Storm Of Wings, I find myself comparing and contrasting this book to World War One and Two, and that colors my perceptions of the story. Chris Bunch has deliberately inserted the colors of the Great War into the narrative, with countryside denuded and left curiously intact in turn, as the fickle fortunes of war dictate. Whole cultures are crumbling under the demands of a war of survival, and heroes loom larger in the public mind as the populace looks desperately for some sign of victory and relief from the dreary prospect of yet more death. As in the previous book, I find myself detached from Hal as he relates the story of his adventures and misadventures. That distance from the hero is my only quibble with the story, and is the only reason I don't give this story a full five-star rating.